Category Archives: Blog Talk

PROpenMic Reflections :: One Year Old, and Growing

Today marks our one year anniversary. I’m feeling pretty good about it. I’ll greatly appreciate your opinions and suggestions below.

So, what have we accomplished? Your thoughts? Here are some observations.

Out of 4,135 members (as of this writing), we have:

Yes, I know that adds up to 4,289. Well, that’s because we have some people selecting two options (practitioners that teach, for instance).

Numbers are ok, but I’m happier about the diversity of those numbers. We’re about 50/50 academic and practicing pros. Continue reading

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SNCR NewComm Forum 2009

The 5th Annual New Communications Forum is slated for April 27th – 29th, 2009. Hosted at the Marriott Hotel at 4th & Mission in San Francisco, CA.

http://www.newcommforum.com/2009/

REGISTER NOW WITH DISCOUNT CODE SNCRFRIEND & SAVE $100. PARTICIPATE IN THE ENTIRE THREE-DAY CONFERENCE FOR JUST $695 OR JUST ONE DAY FOR JUST $395

Now celebrating its fifth year, NewComm Forum is the premier conference that brings together thought leaders and decision makers to discuss the impact of social media and emerging communication tools, technologies, and models on PR and corporate communications, marketing and advertising, media and journalism, business, culture and society The Forum provides an in-depth exploration of the future of communications. In its five year history, it has come to be known as one of the world’s leading conferences focusing on the latest trends in new emerging media and communications platforms. Continue reading

PROpenMic.org Traffic :: One Year Anniversary

Our PR social network has been in action for one year, as of April 1st.  I thought you might like to know how we’re doing.  I’d also appreciate your feedback on the network.  We can’t get better without hearing from your members (and those that haven’t joined, yet, too).

Here’s an update on PROpenMic‘s traffic over the first year. Only April ’08 through February ’09 (11 months) are available.

I’ve used publicly available information from Compete.com and Alexa.com.  They are services used by media buyers to determine rates for ad buys, for instance. Continue reading

Robert Scoble as J.J. Hunsecker? Wine Me & Dine Me

Robert Scoble doesn’t like PR or journalism.

Robert Scoble: A Citizen Journalist Contradiction

Wine Me & Dine Me (or, I’ll whine about bad PR)

Alice Marshall has a post about Robert Scoble’s recent audio blip heard round the block.

“Last Thursday’s edition of For Immediate Release contained a very troubling rant by Robert Scoble about the clueless PR pitches he has received. Scoble prefers to be pitched over dinner…” (Source) Listen for yourself. (The complete podcast is on ForImmediateRelease.biz.)

I think Alice is on to something here.

Update: George Snell notes, in comments on Alice’s blog, “Scoble should not be preaching to PR people about best practices considering that he just received thousands of dollars from Cisco to cover their news – giving Cisco full editorial control over his content. (Source) More info here.”

Robert, we PR people actually do have codes for best practice. I know you’ll be suprised to learn that most people actually pay attention to them. Remember now, Robert, your tech PR experiences aren’t necessarily representative of all PR practice.

Preserve the free flow of unprejudiced information when giving or receiving gifts by ensuring that gifts are nominal, legal, and infrequent.

Examples of Improper Conduct Under this Provision:

A member representing a ski manufacturer gives a pair of expensive racing skis to a sports magazine columnist, to influence the columnist to write favorable articles about the product.

A member entertains a government official beyond legal limits and/or in violation of government reporting requirements. (Source)

To recap, Robert Scoble wants PR to return to the wining & dining days that brought such an unsavory reputation to the practice, years ago. Well, not exactly. But, if you want Robert Scoble’s attention … oh yeah, baby!

Oh, Scoble tried to wiggle out in a comment, but Alice was having none of that. Hey, they were your words, Robert.

Is Robert Scoble becoming J.J. Hunsecker? May I paraphrase the the tagline, please…

They know him – and they shiver – the big names of technology, venture capital and (shudder) … blogs. They know Scobleizer – the world-famed columnist whose tech gossip is gospel to seventy-four thousand Twits, thirteen thousand FriendFeeders and who knows how many Facebookers! They know the venom that Flickrs in those eyes behind the glasses – and they fawn – like (insert a sheep’s name here), the kid who wanted “in” so much, he’d make a nice dinner to stand up there with Scobleizer, sucking in the sweet smell of success! This is Scobleizer’s story – but not the way he would have liked it told!

Strange thing is, Robert Scoble told the story himself. Hey, he made the audio recording and shared it.

Surely, every practitioner should know his/her audience. Scoble’s right about that. Build a relationship.

Christopher Locke, of Cluetrain Manifesto fame wrote a similar refrain (absent the “serve me dinner” option):

So instead of pitching the product, I started talking to journalists about stuff like that. I figured I’d just pretend to be working until I got fired for goofing off. But something amazing happened. As soon as I stopped strategizing how to “get ink” for the company that was paying my salary, as soon as I stopped seeing journalists as a source of free advertising for my employer, I started having genuine conversations with genuinely interesting people.

I’d call up editors and reporters without a thought in my head — no agenda, no objective — and we’d talk. We talked about manufacturing and how it evolved, about shop rats and managers, command and control. We talked about language and literature, about literacy. We talked about software too of course — what it could and couldn’t do. We talked about the foibles of the industry itself, laughed about empty buzzwords and pompous posturing, swapped war stories about trade shows and writing on deadline. We talked about our own work. But these conversations weren’t work. They were interesting and engaging. They were exciting. They were fun. I couldn’t wait to get back to work on Monday morning.

I imagine Scoble likes that point of view.

If you know that the only way to reach Robert Scoble is to invite him to dinner and court his friendship, then you have a chance to gain his attention. OK, but this dredges up some rather ugly images of media placement from years ago.

Let’s face it, Robert Scoble has expressed his disdain for PR many times. What’s so funny to me is that his area of interest, the technology scene – primarily in California, is such a small bubble in the broader world of PR practice. Don’t expect Scoble to acknowledge that, however. He’s perfectly happy to say “how PR is being practiced” rather than accepting that it is the smaller tech PR sector that is letting him down.

Yes, Scoble was an early adopter. Yes, he has had some great ideas and done some remarkable things. But, it is beginning to seem like he was really just getting a head start on building his fame. I can’t help but wonder if he’s becoming to technology what J.J. Hunsecker was to gossip. Wait, is what Scoble does simply tech product gossip? Oh, my god! Well, if he can get all chummy with you and get invited to your parties, maybe so.

Scoble has also expressed disdain for his own journalism degree. Not surprising, since those journalism classes likely emphasized not taking dinners for your attention (especially for coverage). Back in 2005, Scoble left a comment for one of my students, “I have a journalism degree. It isn’t worth that much, believe me. If you want to get paid there are a lot better things to do with your time in school.”

Robert Scoble, I think you’re on some rather shaky ground here.

I know I’ll be pounded by your loyal followers. I don’t mean it to sound bad, but this idea you have of schmoozing for your attention … well, it’s a bad practice. I hope you wake up before the credits roll.

All I would like to see is for Robert Scoble to, with regard to his PR rants, just once, stop staring at his own tree and look at the forest. Your walled garden has a gate, Robert. Walk out of it and see the entire PR world, please.

Miiko Mentz :: Her Unpunched Cluetrain Ticket

A recent post by PinkMoxie, Miiko Mentz (see MiikoMentz.com and FutureWorks PR and Bub.bilicio.us), addressed a post by Jeremy Pepper in his Tumblr blog, Embargoed Release from Mindtouch.

Miiko “is the senior director of New Media & PR at FutureWorks, a social media strategy and PR firm. She also contributes, as a video producer, to Bubblicious, a blog that covers the Social Economy.”

One would think that a director of social media would be unafraid of a discussion, particularly one she started. Well, I posted on her blog in response to Miiko Mentz’s views about good practice and how to behave in social media.

My comment, I believe, was reasonable (even polite) while also being contrary to Miiko’s views. The comment has been deleted. Hmm? A post about how others should behave online denies contrary opinions?

So, I thought I’d share that comment here. I don’t know that I have the ‘exact’ wording of my comment, but I do tend to write things out before I share them.  Then, I’ll paste the text into the comment area on the blog I’m addressing. The following is a draft I saved before posting in Miiko’s blog.

By the way, I wrote to Miiko (yesterday) asking why the comment was deleted. She has since approved other comments on that post since I shared mine.  She has also not yet replied to my email (her choice, of course).   Others saw the comment before it was deleted.

Look, I don’t really care if my comment gets posted in her blog.   The real point here is simply Miiko’s choice to call someone out and now it seems Miiko is averse to, afraid of, contrary views.

My point, simply put:  if you have a blog and receive a comment that does not offend any stated comment policy, why would you delete it?  If you are the “senior director of New Media & PR,” is this path a good practice of social media?  I have tracked back to her post.  Let’s see how it goes.

Here’s the comment, you may decide for yourself.  Remember to read Miiko’s post and all the comments first, as that’s the only way to take this in the proper context.

Comment:

Well, goodness. This has certainly spawned many tangents. I’ll avoid those distractions and address the initial issue.

What was the original reason/rationale for Jeremy’s post? Sure, he accepts all pitches … but, do you (your colleague) know enough about him (and his usual blog topics & tone) to understand why he accepts them? I’m guessing the answer is no. Sorry.

I’ve read his blog for a long time. I can’t imagine Jeremy Pepper writing about this pitch’s topic in a positive manner. Seriously. Never.

That’s what I’m betting first got his attention. But, to really get Jeremy to write, you have to give him more. Your colleague did not disappoint.

There were three pretty crucial errors that followed the primary 101 best practice failures and, I believe, they likely set off Jeremy’s ‘post’ trigger.

The pitch preceded the development of a relationship and understanding with Jeremy. Next. the pitch shared pretty much the whole story prior without gaining that embargo agreement. Finally, your colleague didn’t know and understand her target audience – Jeremy Pepper. It’s really pretty simple.

The worst, most egregious error, may well have been calling Jeremy a “guru” in the pitch. Yikes! Shudder! He doesn’t like that term.

Next, Jeremy uses the Web 2.0 phrase, but he uses it mostly as a term of derision.

Finally, Jeremy rarely (if ever) writes about apps. He’s about as big a fan of SMRs as you are of the the “good ole boys” network.

Again, if you and your colleague knew Jeremy, you’d realize that he is *not* a member of that club. He’s the chief thorn in their side. ;o)

A mentor, Jeremy is. I can attest to that, as can my students and many others. Now, his tone may have an effect upon people. But, again, you’d know that if you knew Jeremy and/or his blog.

Funny thing is, Jeremy was actually mentoring with his Tumblr post. Seriously. Be happy he posted in the Tumblr blog, not Pop PR Jots at blogspot.  (The reason?  It would have received a great deal more attention.)

I imagine you won’t see it this way, but Jeremy actually did you, your colleague, and your firm … a favor.

Rachel Maddow Slices & Dices :: Burson-Marsteller

Under the title, “AIG’s Image Problem,” MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow crafts a rant against AIG and Burson-Marsteller.

In her 3:44 minute rant, Maddow calls Burson-Marsteller the PR agency “from Hell.”

This is a slice & dice unlike any I’ve seen before. Yes, TV talking heads have ranted against PR and firms for eons.

I’m not here to defend or destroy either Burson-Marsteller or Maddow. I do think this particular rant is a good example of creating a selective argument.

Maddow, in her rant, notes that Burson-Marsteller was involved in representing corporations in some of the most high profile crisis events in recent history. From Bhopal to Three Mile Island … date rape drug on toys and faulty breast, and more, Maddow notes that B-M was one of the firms involved in post-event PR. She neglects to note that there were likely many PR agencies involved in those cases. She implies that B-M was the only firm.

Further, Maddow states, “When Evil needs public relations. Evil has Burson-Marsteller on speed dial.” She then points out that Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton’s pollster and chief strategist, is the CEO of Burson-Marsteller.

Almost all of the B-M clients/cases Madow refers to are those that we teach as case studies to learn the pros and cons of both corporation practice and PR practice. To me, this was interesting to watch.

My questions? Was Maddow fair or has she begun to embrace, on occasion, the MSNBC/CNBC “Howard Beale” mentality of commentary? Your thoughts in comments, please.

Here’s the video and an update. Maddow replies to a leaked internal memo by Mark Penn offering a rebuttal to Maddow’s first commentary.

Part I Part II

Auburn Plainsman: Editorial Board’s Strategy and Tactics Questioned by Alumni and Fans

Danger, Will Robinson. This is probably longer than you would like. I’m trying to give the story some background, as little exists in the editorial (and ensuing comments) this crisis has spawned. I’m sure I don’t have all the details, but this may help to better put the controversy into perspective.

I love Auburn. I think you know that, if you’ve read this site even a few times. The background is at the top of this post, so if you don’t want that (although I think it is important) go to the event.

Some background. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of The Auburn Plainsman staff. I am also not (thank goodness) involved in this controversy in any way. I’m a spectator.

Full disclosure: I have had many dealings with the Plainsman over the years, ranging from stories to purchasing advertising. The vast majority of those dealings were very positive and productive, but sure … there were a few bad ones. I can only think of two or three bad experiences, out of hundreds. Still, that being said, I care about, and respect, the Plainsman and wish for it and the journalism program to prosper.

In the past, I have advised the Auburn Glomerata, the campus yearbook. I was also the station manager for WEGL, Auburn’s student radio station and I founded Eagle Eye TV, the Auburn student television program. I offer those bits to illustrate that I do have some familiarity with student media on Auburn’s campus. Finally, the journalism program resides within the department where I teach, Auburn University’s Department of Communication and Journalism.

That introduction offered, I tend to look at controversies from a public relations perspective, so this recent kerfluffle has caught my attention.

I’m writing about this, at the risk of being beaten senseless by my colleagues, because it serves as a good case study for crisis management. I know my students will be talking about this, as it has happened in our own front yard. What follows are only representations of my observations. They do not necessarily represent the opinions of anyone at Auburn University.

Auburn people love their institutions. I’m one of them. The Auburn Plainsman is a time honored institution, too. For the record, “The Plainsman (is) the second most honored collegiate newspaper in the nation” and has 23 college Pacemaker Awards to prove it. You’ll note that their last award was in 2005. That may well play into the frustration exhibited by the current Plainsman staff.

This latest controversy shows that The Plainsman deserves better than they are getting, in many ways.

The Event: On Thursday, a very unhappy experience transpired. The Auburn Plainsman student editorial board chose to post an editorial on the front page. It is unhappy for the Plainsman staff and for the targets of their editorial. It is unhappy for everyone.

To say that they ran it on the front page, however, does not do this incident justice. A front page editorial is intended to draw attention to something the editorial board deems important to the community. To place it above the fold, gives the editorial greater significance. But, to run it above the flag/nameplate is really the same as a declaration of war, or peace (see images). Well, that’s what they’ve done … but on a local (mostly internal) battlefield.  Hey, even headlines of some of the biggest events in history didn’t make it above the flag.  Two below did, two didn’t.

US Declares WarBE001129victory_japan_surrenderspeace-headline

al_bn-smallNow, to place this in current day perspective, more and more newspapers are playing with their front page layout and design. Many will now run news boxes above the flag, even wrapped around the flag/nameplate. Here’s a perfect example from The Birmingham News.

In defense of the students, information above the flag is no longer so rare or to be unexpected in other papers. It may be that the tone of this editorial – combined with its banner screaming placement – is what helped set people off.  But, since it was such an unexpected event and really deals with internal fights, was this strategy wise?  Yes, there are implications for the community, but perhaps the students over-estimated their worth in the eyes of many readers.  Hey, it’s possible.

Looking at many front page examples you’ll see that generally most news goes below the flag/nameplate and rarely (I’m still looking for examples) does an editorial go there. If you can think of an editorial above the flag on a newspaper throughout history, please share it with me.

This is pretty much unprecedented for the Plainsman. Most all of their issues (that I can remember) have flags at the top of the page. I’m sure they have run front page editorials before, but none like this (that I can remember). For context, front page editorials are not unprecedented for newspapers. (See here and here.) In fact, they seem to happen quite often lately, especially with the wars and economic turmoil we’re experiencing.

Why so much attention to the flag/nameplate and the editorial’s placement? Well, in journalism circles that placement is considered pretty important. Some might even call it sacred space. “Sometimes editors have really rigid ideas about what can go on the front page,” said Eric Deggans, TV and media critic at the St. Petersburg Times, in an American Journalism Review story (unrelated to this story).

I’m a film buff, so the Plainsman’s editorial initially struck me like something out of Citizen Kane. If you’ve seen the movie, Kane publishes a statement of principles on the front page of his newspaper. The Auburn Plainsman’s motto is “A spirit that is not afraid.” Well, they certainly weren’t afraid to publish this editorial. Now, in the movie, Kane goes on to violate his stated principles repeatedly throughout his newspaper empire’s life. This action by the Auburn Plainsman’s Editorial Board certainly doesn’t equal the fictional Kane’s transgressions, of course, but it does raise questions about fairness and the judgment of youth.

Many Plainsman alumni have voiced their concerns in comments on the Web and the majority are not happy with the current editorial board’s decision, or tactics.

The setup. The Auburn Plainsman published a front page editorial, above the fold … in fact, above the flag/nameplate, in the Thursday, February 12 edition. Download the front page PDF.

The main focus of their attack is on the paper’s general manager, a university employee. Now, I’m referring to this as an “attack” because the story came out of nowhere. There had been no coverage in the paper that I know of, and there had been no previous editorials inside the paper. I hadn’t even heard of all this internal fighting – and I teach here. Of course, that’s not too uncommon. ;o) I’m usually the last to know anything.

Here is part of what the nine member editorial board had to say:

We have lost confidence in the current management of the business side to reverse this dangerous trend (declining pages & ad revenue). While these are hard economic times, we believe new management of our business operations is needed now. It is because of this belief, we feel our general manager should be replaced by those who hired her.

2.12.2009-A1

In campus backstory talk (combined with listserv posts by Auburn Plainsman alumni, staff and advisors – present and past), we learn that this is a problem that has been brewing (if not boiling over) for years. It is not a new controversy and reports from those involved say that negotiations through traditional administration channels have been repeatedly pursued by both students and faculty. Advisors and students have had discussions with the Auburn Dean of Students and the Auburn President. The feeling is that their concerns have not been acted upon. Frustration has set in. Big time.

Again, to remind you of the passion people feel for this student newspaper, let’s remember that The Auburn Plainsman is not just any student newspaper. Aside from the paper’s many awards, alumni of the newspaper have gone on to illustrious careers in local community newspapers, as well as state, regional and national newspapers and magazines. Of late, Cynthia Tucker (a 1976 grad) has received a Pulitzer Prize for her work as editor of the Atlanta Journal’s editorial page. Serena Roberts recently broke the story about the use of steroids by the New York Yankee’s Alex (A-Rod) Rodriguez. Roberts writes for Sports Illustrated magazine. Those two are just a sampling, I assure you.

The list goes on. So many local newspapers in the south (and around the nation) have Auburn alumni on their staff and, in some instances, leading their paper as editor or publisher. Again, this is not a story about just any college newspaper. In some, perhaps many instances, the Plainsman’s alumni have a stronger connection to the paper than they have to the university. This is one tight, protective family. They love the institution they work(ed) for and want it to uphold/retain the proud reputation and traditions they experienced.

Critique

Although I’ve shared some opinions above, I’ve tried to remain fair in my observations.   I’ll continue to do so and share my main critique and observations of the editorial here.

The editorial begins with the statement, “This is not about us, the current Plainsman staff.”  (Emphasis mine.)   The editorial then goes on to contain 25 instances of the word “we” throughout the copy. One instance is in the headline and another is repeated in a pullquote.

Um, you don’t claim this is about the institution and then talk about yourselves repeatedly throughout your editorial. I believe this is a big reason why so many have had such a negative reaction to the editorial. Many of the comments in response to the editorial have stated, essentially, that the editorial board should wake up and grow up … as in, welcome to the real world of newspapers in the 21st century.  Also, seasoned journalists say, hey – you’re not going to like the decisions or work quality of your bosses all the time.  It goes on…

Next, no one is really speaking publicly about this. That silence raises natural questions. Had the following questions, for example, been addressed in the editorial – this negative backlash may well not have happened.

Some questions:

  • Did the current or former advisers know about the impending publication of this editorial?
  • Did the advisers (both formal and informal) offer counsel to the students? Did the students seek their counsel?
  • Do you know that in this particular dynamic relationship, the Plainsman’s advisor may really only advise. They cannot tell the students what to do. Such is the way the relationships are setup.
      This is important. The ultimate decision, as I understand it, is in the hands of the student editor’s hands with regard to what get’s published. I believe that the editorial board would vote as to their support for adding their name to any editorial. I do not know what their process is, however. It appears that all of the student editorial management names are on this editorial.
  • Did the students consult a lawyer before proceeding with this editorial? Some have suggested that their editorial is an unfair attack on one person, the general manager. They did not name her, but they did identify the job title and there is only one person in that job. She may buy ink by the barrel, but she has no control over how the ink is used – the students do. And, they’ve just spilled a whole barrel on her. So, was this editorial fair to her?
  • Did the students do any pre-screening of influential Plainsman alumni to gauge support for such an act?
  • Did the students consult with the Journalism Advisory Board, a group of journalists (mostly, if not all, alumni) that serve to advise the academic program?
  • Why didn’t the students do a better job writing the editorial? Why didn’t they first identify questions that would likely arise and then answer them as best they could. Associated stories, sidebars and more could have filled the voids.  They certainly had room in print and online to do all of that.  It just doesn’t make much sense.

I really don’t know the answers to those questions. It just seems that had those issues been addressed, those things been done, this may not have played out the way it has.

Also, you should know, The Plainsman has (and has had) an online presence for some time. However, they have never really embraced it. Look at many of the comments and you’ll see that is a repeated theme. Now, had the students stated that they actually have a new online (much more involved) newspaper coming within the year (which they do indeed have coming) … this may have helped to deter some of those comments.  Had they illustrated their own attempts at innovation and attempts to rectify the differences, that too would have helped.  But, look at the editorial.  Not much there.

Back channel talk says the Plainsman’s new online strategy is something they have been working on and it will be launched soon. Again, there is too little background information shared by the editorial board and too little context provided to bolster their claims. The absence of this rather compelling information only served to hurt the editorial board’s reception by their readers. It is almost as if the editorial board is their own worst enemy. Perhaps they could not sufficiently step back and fully analyze their strategy and tactics before moving forward. It wouldn’t be the first time something like this has happened.

In the comments section on the editorial’s Web page, the sentiment currently runs strongly against the editorial board’s decision to run the front page editorial. On the alumni listserv, the sentiment also seems to be mostly against the decision. However, the tone on the listserv has several instances of much wiser counsel and somewhat calmer evaluation of all that has transpired over the last few days.

The comments on the editorial’s Web page have even turned ugly. The discussion has spilled over to blogs (here, too), and Twitter. Again, the response there is largely negative toward the editorial board. There are some (as WordPress calls them) “anonymous cowards” taking sides with the editorial board, and some are quite nasty. I don’t know that I’ve seen an attributable positive comment outside of the listserv conversations.  This kind of snarky nastiness cannot serve a positive purpose.  Did the editorial board even think about the online spread of this story?  They have not been responding, at least not in their own names.  Are some of the anonymous comments from the editorial board?

Update: The Birmingham News posted an article (that link is was a MSN cache of the page, it too has been removed) but the article was inexplicably pulled down. A Bama student has published this LiveJournal post. A re-blog of the last post by Charlie with notes. This week, with the Plainsman’s own follow-up editorial sharing greater detail, we also see two Letters to the Editor in the Plainsman, one of which also appears in the O-A News, and this blog post by Charles Apple. Finally, and perhaps the most devastating bit of information to come out, Niki Doyle (a past Plainsman editor) confirms, from the Dean of Students, that the GM had “turned in her retirement paperwork on Dec. 11, 2008. In other words, she had been planning to retire long before this low blow dealt by the editorial board.” That makes the initial editorial seem quite uncalled for and petty.

The comments are all over the place. There are suggestions that these students have damaged some future job options, as the people doing the hiring have seen this and are not pleased. There are anonymous former Plainsman staffers lashing out with their own personal vendettas over perceived unfairness and firings. It is quite ugly.

My point here is that the actions by the editorial board are perceived, so far, by the majority of people interested in the story as a bad decision. Further, the controversy has led to some rather heated and unsavory comments to be exchanged. Even worse, many of these comments have been anonymous, making the environment even more questionable. Had the editorial board done some advance work, speaking with alumni and influentials, before publishing their editorial … some of this could have been avoided. Further, had they not gone from in-house bickering and background discussions with administrators to a front page above the flag editorial, they might have been better received, too.

Look, the editorial may have been justified.  It may bring about positive change.  But, there isn’t sufficient information out there to justify it in the eyes of the majority of alumni and readers who have taken the time to respond, so far.

There is a phrase. “You can’t unring the bell.” The Plainsman has now rung the biggest bell they have. Had they taken their first shot across the bow with a more reasoned, focused editorial inside the paper, then – later on – they might have been able to go to the front page if things didn’t work out as they wished. As it stands now, they have launched all battleships. The first skimish is a failure, IMO, so far. Who knows what this week will bring as people begin to learn about it. With the overwhelming external public feedback being so negative, so far, the Plainsman editorial board is quite sunk without a big turn around in the week to come.

To have run this not only on the font page, but above the fold … even above the flag, well … the Plainsman now has no other recourse. To hit the front page with another editorial on the same topic will seem kinda sad. Again, they cannot un-ring this bell.

I feel like they launched a massive (unexpected, at least publicly) attack on one person when an inside the paper, better written and reasoned, editorial might have been a wiser path. The lack of background information, for those just now learning of the internal squabbles, has also fed the backlash, in my opinion. That, too, could have been avoided with a wiser strategy and tactics.

Some feel that, despite the backlash, these students may have awakened many people to the problems. Well, sure. You drop a very public big ‘ol unexpected bomb in the front yard, people will notice. The general manager has apparently announced that she will retire in about a month. So, the students get their way on that one count, but what about the backlash? We’ll see this week. I really doubt this one is over. The Thursday edition of The Plainsman will likely be quite interesting.

Finally, some wonder how the Student Communication Board will react.

The official student newspaper, the Auburn Plainsman, is under the direct supervision of the Assistant Vice President for Student Life and has a faculty adviser from the Department of Communication and Journalism. Other major student publications (Auburn Circle, Tiger Cub) are under the supervision of the Director of the Foy Student Union. The SGA Code of Laws established a Communication Board, with representatives from Student Affairs, the Department of Communication and Journalism, and the student body.

Something tells me that there will be a meeting about this soon. Ya’ think?

This post certainly doesn’t address all of the issues at hand here, but I do hope it at least helps to put the controversy in a bit more perspective than has existed over the weekend. I hope the discussion proceeds in a much more calm and constructive manner in public, too.  The Plainsman is too important to lose.

The story is now only four days old. Who knows what will happen this week.